Lozier Presents Keynote Lecture on Mathematical Knowledge
Daniel Lozier of ITL's Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division presented the
keynote address at a workshop on mathematical knowledge management (MKM) in
Phoenix on January 6. The lecture was entitled "MKM and the NIST Digital Library of
Mathematical Functions." A short supporting talk "Authoring Mathematical Knowledge"
was presented by Bruce Miller, a researcher in the same ITL division.
MKM is a new field of research at the interface between mathematics and
computer science. The field starts with the observation that, in principle, the Internet and
World Wide Web have made universal access to highly specialized subject matter
possible. For example, in mathematics a "digital library" can be envisioned that acts like
an online handbook, providing a resource for locating mathematical data together with
effective and convenient tools for using the data in a wide variety of computerized
settings, such as document processors, computation systems and theorem-proving
systems. However, many difficult issues need to be resolved before the full potential of
this vision can be realized.
The NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions is the most ambitious MKM
undertaking to date. Its goal is not only to conduct research but to construct a highly
functional website to meet real 21st century needs for reliable reference information about
the elementary and special mathematical functions that are essential in engineering,
physics and statistics. The mathematical content is being provided by expert authors
under contract to NIST, and the website will have facilities to search for text and
equations, extract formulas and other mathematical data reliably, display user-
controllable visualizations of functions, obtain reviews and full texts of references
electronically, and link to sources of relevant mathematical software.
The workshop was held in connection with the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the
largest annual professional gathering of mathematicians in the U.S. Workshop
participants included more than 30 individuals from American and Canadian universities,
the American and London mathematical societies, and a German mathematics publishing